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Instructors use ‘flipped classroom’ to get students more engaged in math

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    PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) — Learning college math doesn’t always come easy.

So, two math instructors at Portland Community College’s Rock Creek Campus are trying a unique model to get students more engaged.

It’s called a “flipped classroom.”

A flipped classroom model is exactly what it sounds like: Instead of doing a lecture in class and the homework at home, it’s flipped around. So students watch the lecture at home and then tackle the work together in the classroom.

Three years ago, instructors Wendy Fresh and Jessica Bernards started utilizing the flipped classroom method of teaching.

They also incorporated team activities and fun challenges into their classroom work. If any students get lost in an equation, their teachers and peers are right there to help.

“Before, since there wasn’t that much time to ask questions, if I was feeling stumped I might not have liked math that much at the moment, but now even if I feel stumped at home I can go to class and bring up all my questions there and go out feeling better,” said freshman Michael Ortiz.

The instructors say across the country, pass levels for college algebra and trigonometry are only around 50 percent. When they learned about this different method of teaching, they figured it was worth a shot.

“We’ve gotten comments like, ‘I’ve never had this much fun in a math class,’” Fresh said.

They say the numbers also prove the concept. Their pass rates have jumped from the 50 percent range into the 80s.

Class withdrawal rates have also dropped by 20 percent.

“They’re actually tackling those problems instead of just skipping them or using a cheater app to just get through it and jump through that hoop. They’re really doing the math and I think that’s what’s helped with us seeing such great results in our classes,” Bernards said.

Fresh and Bernards said there are now a number of instructors at PCC using the flipped classroom model, and they hope it can continue to catch on and extend to high school classrooms, as well.

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